Loads of books target public-speaking fear head-on. I like a slightly different, off-center method, without the usual suspects. I share three books with clients who are nervous, anxious, or fearful of public speaking, along with a fourth option:
1. “Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking” is a book I was given when learning to make art. Like other forms of performance, making art requires you be brave enough to express yourself, then show that to one person, then get useful critique from a teacher or peer, then put it on public display, then charge for it. Each step has its perils and rewards … don’t they sound like what speakers do? A great short read.
2. “V Is for Vulnerable: Life Outside the Comfort Zone“ is Seth Godin’s picture book (the A for anxiety is shown above). While he hopes to inspire marketers and entrepreneurs, there’s much here in common with public speaking, among the most vulnerable-making of exercises.
3. “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” Susan Cain’s bestseller, reminds you that part of your hesitation about speaking may be introversion rather than fear. But public speaking is one of her fears, and well-covered in this book. You’ll get the nuances and differences, too.
4. “Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges“ from social psychologist Amy Cuddy—the woman who made “power posing” a famous tactic for boosting confidence—is available for pre-order. I’m looking forward to this book by this great speaker and researcher, whose TED talk on power posing is now the second-most-watched TED talk.
Denise Graveline is a Washington, DC-based speaker coach who has coached more than 100 speakers for TEDMED or TEDx talks. A version of this article first appeared on her blog, The Eloquent Woman.